When Milwaukee Braves great Warren Spahn pitched his last game at age 44 in 1965, he stepped off the mound with 363 victories, sixth most in Major League history and most among lefties.

He was also, by almost any measure, the greatest lefthander of all time.

All these years later, Spahn maintains those standings in the victories race, and most would consider him to still be standing on top of the lefty hill, too.

And, even though the Atlanta Braves famously featured three future Hall of Famers in their rotation during the 1990s and 2000s, none could match Spahn’s record with the franchise.

Given his all-timer status and the fact that he pitched in the bigs for 21 years, it’s no surprise that Spahn was featured on plenty of baseball cards during his career. Many of those were classics, instantly recognizable — 1958 Topps, 1951 Bowman, 1960 Topps.

But even among those high-profile Spahn cards, there is one that seems to surface in conversation and visuals whenever the ageless ace comes up — 1965 Topps.

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There’s good reason for that, too, considering it was the last card of his career, issued during his final season in the majors — no career-capper for Spahn.

And that ‘65 card looks like how we (at least those of us too young to have seen him play) remember Spahn — “old” and balding, but happy and smiley.

Then there is the position designation — “P-COACH.” How often do you find that on your baseball cards? Not very, I’d wager.

But there is something off about this card, right? I mean, did you catch the team name on that banner under Spahn’s picture?

Yep, that says “Mets.”

See, after a 6-13 season in 1964, the Braves “sold” their legendary moundsman to the Mets in November of that year. Early enough for Topps to update the team designation in their 1965 set, but too late to get a pic of Spahn in his new uniform.

Enter, Warren The Hatless.

In the middle of July 1965, though, even that updated team affiliation became out of date, because the Mets released him, on the 17th. Two days later, the Giants signed Spahn as a free agent, and he pitched the last 16 games of his career in a San Francisco uniform.

It turned out to be a decent showing by the Bay, as Spahn went 3-4 with a 3.39 ERA to end the season, but it was his last hurrah after two seasons of losing records (4-12 overall in 1965).

Spahn was done, though he did pitch in the Cardinals minor league system in 1966. No real shock for such a player in his mid-forties to walk away, but it had been a swift turnaround over two years, as the lefthander had crafted a sterling 23-7 record with a 2.60 ERA just two seasons earlier in 1963.

It was his last great season, and it also set up a classic but underrated cardboard finale.

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The next summer, even as Spahn was struggling for the first time in forever, collectors who pulled his 1964 Topps card from wax packs were treated to the lefty in full Milwaukee Braves regalia, looking serious as he explained the intricacies of gripping the ball … complete with a demonstration.

And, when they turned the card over, they saw that sparkling 1963 record of Spahn’s, even if they had to squint to read it among the decades’ worth of stats crammed into the tiny matrix.

Hopefully, they appreciated all that card represented, too.

Because, within two years, Spahn would be out of the game, and the Braves would be gone to Atlanta.

But, hey, at least there was — and is — that 1964 Topps card to put the world right, to a time when Spahn was winning big, and still a Brave.


Hobby Wow

Two years after Spahn finished up his big league career, he was back on the mound, this time for the Tulsa Oilers in the Cardinals minor league system. His 1967 uniform looked like the one in this eBay lot …

In fact, according to the seller, Spahn’s uni looked exactly like this — it’s a game-used Spahn shirt.

Check out the full listing on eBay right here (affiliate link).

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